Zero Dark Thirty
Zero Dark Thirty is a 2012 American political-thriller film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal. Billed as "the greatest manhunt in history", the film dramatizes the nearly decade-long international manhunt for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks in the United States. This search eventually leads to the discovery of his compound in Pakistan and the military raid that resulted in bin Laden's death on May 2, 2011.
The film stars Jessica Chastain as Maya, a fictional CIA intelligence analyst, with Mark Strong, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, James Gandolfini, Kyle Chandler, Stephen Dillane, Chris Pratt, Édgar Ramírez, Jennifer Ehle, John Barrowman, Mark Duplass, and Frank Grillo in supporting roles. It was produced by Boal, Bigelow, and Megan Ellison, and was independently financed by Ellison's Annapurna Pictures. The film premiered in Los Angeles on December 19, 2012 and had its wide release on January 11, 2013.
Zero Dark Thirty received widespread critical acclaim and appeared on 95 critics' top ten lists of 2012. It was nominated in five categories at the 85th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Chastain, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing, and won the award for Best Sound Editing. The film also earned Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, with Chastain winning the award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama.
The film's depiction of so-called "enhanced interrogation" generated controversy, with some critics describing it as pro-torture propaganda, as the interrogations are shown producing reliably useful and accurate information. Acting CIA director Michael Morell stated, "The film creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques ... were the key to finding bin Laden. That impression is false." Other critics described it as an anti-torture exposure of interrogation practices.
Republican Congressman Peter T. King charged that the filmmakers were given improper access to classified materials, which they denied. An unreleased draft IG report published by the Project on Government Oversight, in June 2013, stated that former CIA Director Leon Panetta discussed classified information during an awards ceremony for the SEAL team that carried out the raid on the bin Laden compound. Unbeknownst to Panetta, screenwriter Mark Boal was among the 1,300 present during the ceremony.